Coyote Calls for Change

Warning: Not for the squeamish.

This fellow — or one of his wily brethren — stopped by our house last Saturday morning at 4 am.

His path intersected with this fellow’s — or one of his furry pals.

Citizen number two did not fare well at the crossing, and Suzanne and I heard the outcome transmitted with four quick, heart-rending squeals followed by silence.

We had just settled our heads back on our pillows when we detected the sounds of dining. Unfortunately, they were not the genteel clink of silverware on china or click of crystal toasted to crystal. No, we heard tooth dividing flesh and bone. When we got to the open window, Wily Brother stood poised in our front yard, left paw firmly holding Furry Pal in place. He glanced up at us in the window. He showed no look of triumph or shame or remorse. He looked like a coyote always looks — hungry. And you can’t fault him for that or for his success.

It is disturbing to have your front yard become a hunting ground and even more disturbing to have it become so successful. Because the next night, while I was out of town, Suzanne reported that Wily Brother returned at 1 am and crossed paths with another visitor, but it wasn’t any of Furry Pal’s friends. This feline visitor had a real name and belonged to some family in the neighborhood, but it shared the same fate as the rabbit.

A blog about words and communication may seem a strange place to raise the topic of successful predators in modern suburbia, but I broach it to make this simple point. In these two events, there were three fates. The coyote sated his hunger. The rabbit and the cat died. And the two people watching were profoundly affected by the events, and their lives were changed. Suzanne, particularly, felt the effect, and she acted on a choice she has long pondered — to commit to a vegetarian diet.

People can change. Coyotes cannot.

Our ability to communicate sophisticated ideas and achieve understanding allows us – compels us – to change. The words we use have far greater power than the coyote who can never change. The coyote can prey on small animals, but our communication can destroy civilizations. Words matter.